The weather did not cooperate with our summer vacation plans. It was rainy.  It was windy.  It was cold.  Perhaps this sounds like a complaint. Let’s just say that after a week of being cooped up in a Canadian cottage on a lake, two coat-clad cottagers communicated that it was the cloudiest, coldest week that they’d had on the lake all summer long, and for that matter, any summer that they had ever experienced vacationing on the lake! They joked that my wife and I were to blame for bringing the rain with us.  Unfortunately, it seemed like a realistic statement, since we were leaving the very day that the forecast called for sunny skies and pleasant temperatures.

It was a time to make lemonade, as they say.  We used the long hours inside the cottage to do something we rarely make time to do-play board games.  Rummikub, Uno, Boggle, and Scrabble.  Again, and again, and again.   Interestingly enough, during these games, God brought my thoughts around to reflect on something I had not anticipated.

I was deep into a Scrabble game against my wife.  I had acquired every single one of the coveted high point tiles.  My strategy?  To zap my opponent with a quick play of all the quirky, zany (or is it “zaney”?) tiles and claim the victory.  (Then do a “jig!”)

Well, …. I lost.  Badly.  Here’s why:  focused on the precious gems that I possessed and all the words that I could make from the tiles in my tray, I was paralyzed to play them on the board. I never got the chance.   I didn’t want to use my 10 point letters to spell “qui”, or “zits.”  I was holding out to play a word like zboing!   But the opportunity never came, and unfortunately, that’s not just a quip. So, being very competitive and losing so badly, I had to find something philosophical to vindicate this “grovel through the gravel of my failed game of Scrabble!”  (Are you catching some of the great words I could have played?)

This is what I learned. I daresay it’s biblical.  Gifts are precious things. We may know that we possess them in an absolute sense. We hold them close and agonize over how we will put them on the board, waiting to pounce on the opportunity to put them in “play.”  So much potential!   Some of the “gifts” we possess are fully intended to compliment something that is going on outside the tiles on our tray.  Perhaps this reality is to show us exactly how smug we become when we win the competition.  Perhaps it is to show us how sad (or frustrated) we can become when we feel like we have nothing to contribute or when the chips don’t fall our way.
Lessons learned:
1. Play your z’s, q’s and k’s when you can. The longer you wait, the more time goes by and the game is closer to ending than ever before.
2. Your gifts have value inasmuch as their usefulness on the board. They must be connected to the reality on the game board, not merely the potential (theoretical) arrangements in your tray!

This is a sobering realization. What  potential are you withholding?  If the play is only in the tray, don’t keep it that way!